What’s good everyone? The last week has been a blur of chaos, dread, fear, paranoia, and despair, and college football got in on the party Saturday. Initially I wasn’t happy with Clemson’s loss but over span of a few hours we saw that it was the first domino to fall, and my Lord did they fall. I’m sure the drunks filing out of The Oven Saturday night celebrating a fourth quarter boat race were elated when their cellular devices were reconnected to the world and they saw the college football scoreboard. That’s another reason I usually stay home, I am an antsy man during games and flip around on commercials. Flipped on the Pitt game in time to see Pitt’ing > Clemson’ing. Thanks Pitt, beers on us.
So I went to bed inebriated, full of skillet burgers, and elated beyond any words I can muster, but then I woke up. I woke up and thought to myself “Really glad we have a short week until gameday, this is good for my anxiety and nerves. Unfortunately as I was reaching for my bottle of vitamins I had a horrible realization, “Oh God, ten years ago we watched our championship dreams explode before us in the form of Will Gay’s infamous off-sides penalty. I want to sleep until Thursday afternoon”. Houston is a competent team currently with the second longest home winning streak in the nation, a great coach, and an All American QB. They have an opportunity that I assume all members of the AAC cherish; they get to play the bad guy. They get to derail a contender. I’m feeling queasy, someone pass me a beer.
This is the effect of a lifetime of cheering for UofL football. Lining the ball up, planting your leg, sprinting full speed just so Lucy can pull up and we fall flat on backs staring up at the heavens cursing life in general. Worst moments I experienced at UofL; the ice storm, the wind storm, that god-forsaken game. I was robbed at gunpoint in St. James Court one night but I chalked that up to LIVIN FOR THE CITAAAAAAYYYYY.
Since it’s been ten years and way past time to bury the dead horse, that’s what I’m going to attempt to do in the post. Let us exorcise the demons of Thursdays past. I am going to take the memories of Kerry Rhodes dropped interception against Miami, and William Gay’s offsides penalty, lock them in a box, and cast them to the bottom of the Ohio. Let them surface on the sunny side of the river, they can be Indiana’s problem. Thursdays will haunt us no longer, Cards fans.
I remember way too much about the Rutgers game and afterwards, Miami, ehh not so much. My lasting memory of the loss to Miami was puffing a Marlboro watching my buddy go to town on a tree outside our frat house with a folding chair. It looked cathartic but I can only assume so as I have too much respect for Mother Earth to strike a tree with anything but an axe, so on to Rutgers.
Damn you Rutgers, that team had Ray Rice on it and was coached by Greg Schiano, two stand up guys if there ever were. Two men associated with high moral fiber and are held in the highest regards by their peers. Schiano captained a ship in Tampa with a MRSA outbreak. Hat tip to Mark Ennis for reminding me Ol’ Greg leaked Josh Freeman being in the NFL’s Substance Abuse Program due to ADHD meds. What kind of uncouth sociopath does that? Who could forget him instructing players to dive at knees when opponents kneeled at the end of game? Also there was the team named the Buccaneers essentially having a mutiny against him, sometimes the universe is just and equally hilarious. Ray Rice, the man gets paid to tour around the country lecturing athletes not to hit women. I will do it for far less and will not limit my audience to just athletes, don’t hit women. That’s it, simple stuff really. What I’m saying here is, well, eff those guys.
So yeah game day, I woke up to classmate asking if I could turn in a project because they got called into work. I was in a bad mood because this group member contributed nothing and couldn’t even deliver the damn thing to the professor. I was young and had no idea this is the stuff in college that truly prepares you for the cube farms. I’m hanging out in the common area of my buddies frat house and some girls from the sorority next door ask us if we can hang a mirror for them, sure, we’re gentlemen and all. People this mirror took up an entire wall and weighed no less than a hundred pounds. My buddy is struggling with his end and drops it causing the mirror to slip down my palm slicing it up and landing on my toes breaking two of them. This is clearly not my day but its game day and football cures all life’s ills, until it doesn’t.
At this point I am bleeding, limping, and still have to deliver this stupid project about recidivism rates of second time offenders in Baltimore, if that sentence makes no sense to you consider yourself blessed and don’t ask. Only thing to do when you’re bloody and limping on Belknap campus is hobble over to Bearno’s for some pizza and pitchers of beer. Day drinking at Bearno’s was a very common event back then and all the usual suspects from campus were there. As I’m finishing the last corner of my pitcher everyone’s favorite rowdy sorority girl sprints full speed at me and lunges for a hug while I’m holding the group project in one hand and beer in the other. The beer splashes all over me and the project. I am now soaked in beer, limping, with dried blood all over me, and very mad. I basically looked like an alcoholic version of Joe Pesci in Home Alone after running the first round of Kevin’s gauntlet. No worries, its game day, and football will redeem my horrible start to the day.
I get to professors office and there is a simple note on their door, “Had to leave office early, please submit your projects for grading via email”. You have got to be messing with me, this isn’t happening. I forget my broken toes and kick the door, foolish man.
So I limp over towards the quads and as I’m walking in I stop to explain to a friend in front of the library why I look like microwave’d crap and BOOM, door opens up as I turn around and I caught all of it with my face. This was truly the worst day of my college existence.
By this point I’ve decided I am going to watch the game at my apartment and skip the parties because the universe was clearly out to get me. Instead I was easily convinced to hit up the viewing party at Tailgaters. For the younger readers Tailgaters was the bar across from PJCS that now looks like a knock-off Margaritaville restaurant. Also Bearno’s was located where the Senior Frogs on campus is now. Get to Tailgaters and it was the weirdest collection of UofL fans I’ve seen in one place. It was all undergrads and white hairs, nothing in the middle. It looked like a large group of incoming frosh had been on tour with their parents and it concluded at Tailgaters.
We begin drowning ourselves in buckets of Bud Ice and Cards chants, passing flasks in the bathroom, and making plans for an after party back at the house. Louisville is about three degrees of separation, everyone knows everyone, so chances are high someone who reads this is related to the old lady that kept grinding on my buddies and I while her husband leaned back with a creepy grin. Ya aunt and uncle are freaks whoever you are.
The team is lining up for the kick and my buddy and I have a member of the Jim Porter’s All-Stars grinding us despite no music playing. Imagine the biggest moment of your fandom happening while someone your mother’s age dances on you like Eileen from Seinfeld DURING PLAY-BY-PLAY-COMMENTARY. Snap is down. Kick is up. HE MISSED IT HE MISSED IT!!! The DJ starts playing Aww Naw by Nappy Roots, it’s a party. GET OVER HERE OLD GAL ITS R KELLY BUMP-N-GRIND TIME!!!
Wait, what’s that flag? Turn the music off!!! Stop celebrating you damn fools!!! Snap is down. Kick is up. It’s good. GET OFF ME WOMAN!!!
I bet out of the hundreds of people in the bar maybe two dozen of us saw the real ending, everyone was so happy and then they switch audio back to the game and it’s all “RUTGERS WINS, RUTGERS WINS, ON A MIRACLE PENALTY”. Cops can’t bust up morale that quickly or efficiently breaking up keg parties. Total despair everywhere, so many girls were crying. “Miracle penalty” still haunts me.
I walk outside and witness my first act of Card on Card crime. Some old guys had gotten mouthy with some frat bros and next thing I know punches are flying, get me home Lord I am but a humble servant and I tap out.
It was the lowest I’ve ever felt about something I cared so much about. It was like getting stood up on a date with your crush or being told your GPA wasn’t high enough to graduate. It was pure hell.
That won’t happen Thursday, and now I’m going to tell you why. Bobby admitted earlier this season he has a photographic memory and recalls every play he’s ever called and the down and distance for them. If I remember that day as vividly as I do, imagine how Bobby reflects on it. Imagine how he looks back on missed opportunities on a Thursday night ten years and one week ago. You can’t doubt this team, you can’t discredit them. I don’t care if it’s a poised 2 min drill on the road against UVA or a fourth quarter boat race at home, they don’t quit. As Keith Kelsey said after the Wake game, “beat the body down, and the mind will follow”. Let’s get to Thursday without collective panic, maybe read a book, I recommend Smart Football from Trinity grad Chris B. Brown. Read that and you’ll enjoy Dave Lackford’s videos even more and you won’t be one of the folks Dave and I tease for being clueless. Go Cards, Go Krogering, beat Houston.
That Boys Good
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